If you were to list the players in the conversation for ‘greatest Dota 2 pro ever’, you’d be part of the same discussion as every CS:GO fan who loves s1mple. Is greatness about longevity and success, or ultimate peak, regardless of how much glory it leads to? When it comes to the former, Dota has some serious contenders, a few of whom played a part both in the first and the latest TI.

We went back to the first Intentional to look at who was making waves then, and who could be a factor in China later this year. There aren’t many left, but a few good men remain as reminders that nobody ever really leaves Dota – starting with a man who has a chance to potentially win the event, having played all the way back at the first TI, with less success…


If you asked Dota fans to list their likely winners of TI9, there would be a variety of answers, which is one of the best things about the game. The unpredictability keeps things fresh, but you can rely on a few big teams to at least give a good showing. Chief among those is Team Liquid, led by none other than Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Salehi Takhasomi.

It’s been a tough few months for Liquid, with the team having to change their line-up after years together, but they look to have made the switch just in time, bringing in w33 in place of MATUMBAMAN. The sheer longevity of Kuro’s career speaks to his love of Dota – and also the insane drive and ability that fuels his greatness. What’s even more crazy is the fact he’s only 26, meaning we could see his face at TI for some years yet.


It’s ironic that the man called ‘Puppey’ is one of the older players at the top level, but Clement Ivanov, as he’s known to his mom back home in Estonia, is an evergreen fixture of Dota 2. Back in 2011, he was a part of Dendi’s team – at least in the eyes of the community that watched Na’Vi lift the aegis and establish themselves as the first Dota dynasty –, and it’s crazy to think Puppey and Dendi are the same age when you look at their respective careers today.

With China gearing up to welcome Puppey and his Secret squad, it’s interesting to note that old Clement may even end up winning TI9 all those years after taking home the prize at the first edition. There is more money on the line now – and for the man in question, probably more pride as well –, as he’s accepted as the mastermind of this team and one of the great captains anywhere across all esports. A victory in Shanghai would put him front and centre in the Dota GOAT picture.

the international winners today

Read more: Where are the different TI winners today?


There was a long fallow period for MISERY, but the man is back as a player at TI, having been here as both coach and player in the past. Year one saw him represent Meet Your Maker – who, ironically enough, are nowhere to be seen when TI rolls around these days –, and now he’ll don a Chaos jersey, having come through the qualifier for this year’s big showdown.

Playing for EG and Secret – as well as coaching paiN – will have given MISERY a wealth of experience, but he’s not expected to go deep in 2019’s edition. Still, the determination is impressive from a man who has had to take as much of the rough as the smooth down the years and keeps coming back for more.

There are a few honourable mentions we’d like to make. Sockshka was previously on Virus Gaming, now looking to defend his crown as OG’s coach. Speaking of which, ex-OG man Pajkatt was on Ok.Nirvana.Int at TI1, now returning as the coach of NiP, while both Yao and QQQ will coach LGD, having played for OK.Nirvana.CN and EHOME respectively back in 2011.

There are others, of course – as support staff, analysts, or even working as ‘talent’ –, but the determination and love for Dota the likes of Puppey, MISERY and KuroKy have displayed is truly something else. For a game that has a reputation for being unchanging, it’s amazing how few of the gods of 2011 still reign today, and also a testament to the strength of the scene today.